I am a sucker for an innovator. So when Jeremy from If You Build It Design came a calling with a tasty little offer, I got curious. As a freelancer, I know only too well about how far and wide the debate about whether you should work for free goes.
Also, I get hammered with a minimum of 5 emails each week of people offering me free stuff in exchange for space on my blog. Granted, they are usually companies who want to put their client’s crap on my blog thinly veiled as guest blogs for free with absolutely nothing in it for me, but between that and the dodgy SEO emails, it gets a bit much.
So when a design agency comes to you offering a freebie, there will be a few tyres you kick before you feel entirely comfortable.
Swapping a blog for a cover photo
The deal was they’ll design me a free cover photo for Facebook in exchange for a blog about my experience working with them.
First of all, this appealed over the usual idiots because lo and behold, instead of me simply letting people scrawl over my blog, they were offering me something.
Secondly, they were smart enough to offer me something I didn’t have. (I know this may come as a shock to you oh companies who insist on telling me I need people to post blogs on my site, but I don’t actually. I am a writer. Go figure).
Thirdly, they didn’t cower at any of my questions such as “can I be truthful?” This again was huge because usually, the sounds of knees start knocking on the other side of the monitor at the idea of a question, let alone the truth.
But I digress- I said yes to IYBI because they had a strong offer, the exchange was mutually beneficial, and didn’t baulk at me telling the truth.
The first run at design
The problem with someone like me is when you are doing a marketing campaign you better come prepared. I have been marketing for 18 years, so I tend to like to see what other people provide.
The guys were quick with their acquiring assets and seemed very keen. Maybe a little keen for someone like me who is usually juggling too many things, but I was excited. And I was curious to see what was to come.
Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed the first time around. The customer service and the offer were there. The delivery was timely, but the product didn’t meet my level of excitement.
Classic covers don’t push marketing limits
The first bash at it was to take the logo I had provided and the web banner from my website and add extra splash.
My first reaction was disappointment. This was followed by wondering if I was supposed to supply more direction. Then I became annoyed because I felt like I had given time to the email process and elements and was expected to supply a blog (which can take half to a full day depending on length) for something I could have done myself in Pic Monkey in the time it takes for tea to brew.
Now I understand there is a current love of classic and simple Facebook cover photos, but frankly, I think unless you are going to change them out in some kind of series and you are going to go to the effort of designing something, it’s a waste of time.
I’ve worked across web, print, event, premium creation and all kinds of other forms of marketing and I can tell you right now the one thing a person looks for with your marketing is information. We want calls to action to prompt us to do things. Or we want information so we know what you do.
It was pretty. Pretty don’t pay the rent.
So I gave feedback that said I was underwhelmed and that inspiration could be drawn from what I offered as services, my tagline and/or social media profiles. I also offered them an out of I started being a pain in the giblets.
Overcoming customer objections
Customers aren’t always right. In fact, sometimes they are so clueless, it hurts. So I was half expecting these guys to take the out that I had given them, pack their pencils and sail off into the cyber sunset, swearing.
But they didn’t.
What they did was come back with a cover photo that expressed the missing elements, featured my social media, and got me very excited again. And they did it with a cheerful bunch of emails and check ins.
The first time around, they didn’t win me over. But what resulted from trying again did.
As a freelancer, I hear from other freelancers all the time how painful customers can be and horror stories about free work situations. I’ve heard about people taking a mile when an inch is generous enough. I even cancelled my own barter product after one too many places taking too many liberties to give nothing in return.
It’s a tricky tightrope to walk at times and working for free takes a lot of bravery on the part of the person who does the free work. It should be respected as such, not taken as a given.
But the gang from If you build it pulled out the stops and gave me something I was happy with, no bottom lip added.
And you have to respect them for that.
Clever marketing ideas always win
There are a lot of people and businesses out there trying to get noticed and stimulate word of mouth. We spend an awful lot of time trying to work out how to win customer hearts and to cut through, especially when we don’t have marketing budgets backing up our ideas.
This little experiment in creating a cover page photo in exchange for a blog post is pretty damn clever. Giving something away that you are great at to someone who needs it in exchange for their word of mouth is the way marketing should be.
If you give something to your intended audience that they like, even if the ride is a little bumpy along the way, you are likely to get a reward.
So the guys from IYBI design not only got an honest blog post, they also get added to the places I can share with my clients when design projects are happening.
So for the price of a free Facebook cover, they’ve scored themselves some future work through word of mouth and some high praise.
Not a bad deal, right?
Would you take up an offer like this? Would you offer one yourself?
Which do you prefer, the classic or the more busy 2nd version?